CLINTON – For Barney Wright, dairy farming has always been a way of life.
As a fourth-generation family dairy farm, the Wrights have struggled before, but the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a variety of unique issues.
Barney Wright continues to find solutions to unique problems, but he struggles to find help.
Beyond the difficulty in finding help on the farm, the pandemic has made it difficult to find drivers for the milk trucks. Anticipating the shortage of truckers, Wright had earlier purchased a new $ 100,000 tank to store milk, which meant truckers wouldn’t have to come back until the morning milking was over.
A building of $ 200,000 was also needed to keep the reservoir. These milk storage buildings must be kept in catering conditions. They spent an additional $ 50,000 to upgrade their washing system.
In an effort to be as environmentally friendly and ethical as possible, while maintaining the quality of the milk they have historically produced, Wright has put in place multiple systems and structures. A drainage system collects polluted or impure water and stores it with manure to prevent water from entering other systems. Along with their cow barns, they have special panels and walls that allow good air circulation. In winter he keeps the cows warm and in summer he keeps them cool.
Wright had taken a step back from his job, but in the past three weeks he has returned to work because a worker has finished. Wright is not complaining when explaining the situation. He does what he needs to keep the farm running.
“You won’t find anyone with a better sense of humor than my dad’s,” said daughter Caeligh Wright. “He’s pretty laid back, there isn’t much that gets on his nerves which is good because in this line of work there are a lot of things that can go under your skin if you let them.” . Farming is truly his passion and he has dedicated himself to this farm for most of his life. It’s not just a job for him, it’s really a way of life, he eats, sleeps and breathes whatever is on the farm.
Brian “Barney” Wright was born on February 4, 1964. Growing up with his brother and two younger sisters, he learned the farm journey early on. His parents, Samuel and Nancy, instilled a strong work ethic and compassion in their children from an early age.
In 1987, when he was 24, Barney married Bridget McDonough. Together, they had a daughter, Caleigh, who is now married to Andrew Miller. The two have Barney, Torrey and Henry’s only grandchildren.
Wright Place Farm was established in 1956.
The approximately 3,000 acre property has 702 dairy cows and 102 dry cows. The cows are housed in shelters with concrete floors covered with sand. Barney Wright explained by moving sand with a front loader that sand is better for cows than sawdust. The sand provides traction for the cows and can be used to cool them down.
In front of the pile of sand is a small pond. A muskrat and two ducks started swimming.
“Wildlife is for my nieces and nephews,” Wright said with a smile during a recent visit to his farm. This also applies to the seven horses they own. Family is a constant theme on this dairy farm.
With the cows, there is a chicken coop on the property. Wright’s son-in-law Andrew Miller walked over to the chicken coop and stopped to give Wright an overview of the status of the farm. Miller is one of the 18 main workers at the Clinton farm. At the new Pittsfield location there are approximately six workers.
Flood Brothers Farm, a 1,600 cow dairy farm with 43 employees also located in Clinton, has also been hit hard by the pandemic.
Farmer Family Member Jenni Tilton-Flood said: “One of the biggest things we’ve learned is how much we depend on our community and how much the community depends on us.
Tilton-Flood said that over the past 18 months there have been various impacts of the virus, but the lack of sanitary products and gloves is constant. The gloves they need are now almost three times more expensive than before COVID-19.
Since 1956, the Wright family has been present in central Maine and has contributed significantly to neighboring towns. The dairy farm has managed to survive various struggles, especially COVID-19.
When he talks to those around him, it’s clear that Wright loves his family and how much he appreciates them. There is adoration in his eyes as he talks to his wife who gives him their grandson, Henry. At 2 and a half years old, Henry looks like his grandfather and is already showing signs of willingness to learn the family trade.
“It would be the fifth generation if it comes to fruition,” said Wright, as Henry sat in his lap. He beams with pride as he shares how Henry mimics planting corn and feeding cows.
Wright hopes that the agricultural tradition he passes on will also be increasingly respectful of the environment.
As for their cow feed, the Wrights are very particular about what cows eat. Mixtures of beet pulp, grain and alfalfa are common because they help ensure that cows get all the nutrients they need. The other food is a mixture of soybeans. Additionally, each cow has a collar, USDA ear clip, and is chipped, allowing milk production to be tracked. There are also special feeds for pregnant and lactating cows, as they need additional nutrients.
“When the calves are young, they stay in special barns,” Wright said. “When the calves are in the crèche, they are given little jackets to help them stay warm and not to overexert themselves. Calves are kept with no more than four per pen. Between the calves, they remove and wash the pens to break any potential negative ecological cycles. “
Central Maine businesses seek workers at drive-thru job fairs